News for the ‘diy’ Category

blest be the bikes

Check out my thurible I’m proud of my thurible.
Jodi will probably blog about the blessing in the next few days at
Micah Taylor takes nice photos, eh?
Thanks to Joe Autumn and Scott for all the mechanic skills.
And thanks to Express Bike Shop for the old freewheels.

Posted: May 3rd, 2010
Categories: bike, diy
Comments: No Comments.

Up To The Month News

Things I’ve learned/known/come to accept about blogs/blogging

Pictures are helpful.  When a blog has a picture I’m drawn in.  When it doesn’t I say to myself, “What is this, my blog?”

In an effort to draw you in visually, here’s a photo.

That’s Russel MunsonMicah Taylor took that shot.  That’s where I spent many mondays, drank way too much (or not enough) coffee, and recorded Becoming Liturgy.

Here’s another thing I’ve learned.  A regular well written blog is way better than an irregular blog, well written or not.  My wife has a once a week blog for her church.  It’s short, well written, and is updated once a week.  Perfect.  See for yourself

And I’ve learned this.  Reading people’s apologies/excuses for not blogging is annoying.  It’s like people calling to say they’re running late.  If you’re supposed to be at my house at 6 and it’s 6:05 chances are I’ve already put two and two together. I’m not a total idiot.  (note to self: disable comments).  Likewise, if I go to Nate Houge dot com and it’s a lame blog about being busy and not having a chance to blog my response is likely going to be, “Stop wasting your time blogging this drivel, go get your stuff done, and then give me decent blog to read.”

What else have I learned?  Well I believe Jeremy Myers said it along these lines ‘Never has so much been written with such lofty aspirations for so little a readership.’ What does this mean?  Well, I should fear, love, and trust that my readership is more like a house concert and less like first ave.  Moving into a living room is a good thing.  It’s cleaner.  Drinks are cheaper.  Parking’s better.  I don’t have to pee in a trough.

I know I’ve learned other things too.  But like much of my education it just didn’t stick. 

Who knows?  Maybe I’ll have a great blog next monday.  Or just another picture of Russel.  It got you this far didn’t it?

Posted: October 26th, 2009
Categories: diy
Comments: No Comments.

this is the way we go to church

It is my eternal hope that someone will buy our mini-van.  Soon.  It could be you. 

On Sunday afternoons our family heads off to Humble Walk Lutheran Church.  HWLC meets in a vacant spot on the corner of W. 7th and Randolph.  By and large everything used for worship goes back and forth between the building and our spacious 2 bedroom bungalow, which also hosts the church office and a utility room that I now refer to as the Janitor’s Closet.  Part of the glory of being married to the pastor is that I get to help schlep all the gear.  Thankfully, considering most churches’ set ups it’s not much.  Oddly enough though we can’t fit two kids, two parents, two rubbermaids, two djembe’s (lately there’s been a pre-service drum circle) and a guitar in one Honda Civic.  So we have to use the mini-van.  But I want to sell the mini-van.  So with the help of I built this bike trailer:


It can also pull four kids up and down the alley.  And the kids like it.  I once jokingly said it was a quarter for a ride.  I made 5 bucks in about 12 minutes.  Suckers!  Their parents made me give it back.

The Reverend thinks it makes me look homeless.  I think she knew I’d take it as a compliment.  (Funny thing is I’ve had preschoolers ask me if I was homeless before.  Apparently the homeless population in St. Paul is handsome, smart, creative, funny, and an all together likeable group.)

So please, buy the mini-van already.

Or hire me to build you a trailer.  Better gas mileage and more trunk space than a Honda Civic.

Posted: May 31st, 2009
Categories: bike, diy
Comments: No Comments.

In Defense of Corporate Giants

Okay, I’m a little preachy.  So let me say a few kind words for the conglomerates. 

One thing I love about the big boxes is the free rental plan.  Examples:

Somebody I knew was doing a little bathroom remodeling with PEX.  PEX is cheap and easy to work with if you have the 95 dollar crimping tool.  But what this person found out was if you held on to the reciept Menards would view it as less of a purchase and more as a borrowing and when I was done… I mean when that somebody was done they were able to return the tool and get their money back.  Not unlike borrowing my neighbor’s edger.  It only makes me like them more.

Another somebody I traveled with once got tired of lugging 6 saw horses in the back of his truck from AZ to CA and back.  So, since we were done with them in CA we stopped by Home Depot and returned them.  He returned them without a reciept.  You tend to lose reciepts after 8 months of use.  No questions asked.  Thank you Home Depot!

And my favorite are the two folks I know who have purchased thousands of dollars of gear at Guitar Center for gigs and returned it the next day.  One was a huge amp, the other was huge drum set.  Way to support starving artists.

So thank you corporations, we’ll remain anonymous if you do!

Posted: April 8th, 2009
Categories: diy
Comments: No Comments.

Nate Houge Fixes the Economy


The thing is, I may be in the camp that says, €œLet the economy burn.€ I think that the macro-economics that this glutenous country of ours are obsessed with are antithetical to a healthy community.

Here’s what got the finite hamsters in my head running. (In the interest of full disclosure I should point out it was more of a jog.)

I heard a guy on the radio (Wow Nate, way to kick things off with a credible source!) saying that a consequence of shopping locally is that you will drive the prices up. He was a professor of economics and so I’m guessing on paper he’s right. And I’ve seen this to be true. I can buy a drill bit at Menards for a buck or I can go to my old employer at S & S hardware and get the same drill bit for $1.69. S & S isn’t buying them by the gross, maybe not even by the dozen. They don’t get the discounts. And so because we hold the success of our economy over the success of our community we go to Menards. We drive further, we walk around forever, we ask where the drill bits have been moved to since our last visit, and we save our .69 cents. It only took an extra 45 minutes of our time and an extra four miles of driving. We didn’t see anybody we knew, though after 10 years of home ownership I admit I do recognize a couple faces back in the lumber department. But you get where I’m going with this. When I walk into S & S chances are Mark will be working there. He’ll talk about the glorious Republican party to which his allegiance is sworn and then talk religion. I mean football. He’s a Packers fan so you understand it’s a blurry line. Once when I was working there on a slow winter night a guy came in with some gas line questions. My coworker went to his house and helped him connect his new stove. Nobody at Menards is going to do that. That .69 cents is worth it to me.

Although I will admit, I’m more likely to go to Mitch’s Hardware Hank. It’s a few blocks closer and I can pick up a two pack of 3/32€ bits for $1.59.

Posted: April 7th, 2009
Categories: diy
Comments: No Comments.

the farm

remember the farm?  didn’t they have the hit single ‘groovy train’?

My mom gave me the book ‘animal, vegetable, miracle’ by barbara kingsolver.  (if my name was barbara i’d spell it barabara.  looks cooler.)  It’s all about eating local for a year.  My mom started it and liked it but since she and my Dad were heading back to Kenya this morning she left it with Jodi and I because it doesn’t really have the same implications in East Africa as it does in Minnesota.  She figured we’d get more out of it and than she’ll get it back next time they’re on the continent.  Smart move Mom. 

I love B. Kingsolver (Her middle name must not start with a B or else she obviously would sign everything B. B. Kingsolver.  She’d write bluesier books too.)  This book is just as great as everything else of hers.  So far.  And it’s got me really excited for eating locally.  So excited in fact that I took Elsa to the Farmers market this morning and got a bunch of local produce.  I came home and told Jodi we’d be eating local this week.  She looked at what I got and said, “Yes you will be.”  Apparently my family is not as keen on living off of Eggplant, Collard Greens, and Jalepenos as I am. 

Yes they did.

Posted: September 13th, 2008
Categories: diy, edumacation, family, politics
Comments: 1 Comment.

It's My Year, and So is Yours.

Oprah’s personal trainer recently spoke to me via the back of a box of Cheerio’s. At the time I was busy lowering my cholesterol. He told me that this was my year. (Emphasis mine.) Heck yeah! And here I thought it was the year of the rooster!

By the power invested in me by Oprah’s trainer, I hereby declare it the year of yours truly,

Two-Thousand & Nate.

Normally between mid January and late August I get my butt over to Office Max and purchase a calender to write down important things like meetings and lunches with important people that aren’t really going to happen but that I like to write in red pen on days when I’m actually having lunch with less important people. The idea being that while dining with a lesser I can pull out my calendar and check what else I have going on that day and the lesser will see that I’ve skipped my lunch date with teen heart throb Bill Moyers to have lunch with him or her. It makes the little people feel big. And now that I look at it in writing it makes me feel little. Take me out to lunch and see if I’ve stopped doing it.

If by September I still haven’t purchased a calendar for the year I print one off using my big shiny computer. In the past this has taken me longer than a trip to Office Max because I can never remember how to make Sunday just as big as the other days €“ Outlook always squishes up the weekends, and when you love Jesus as much as I do you need a lot of room for all the Holy ways you’re going to make a living on Sundays.

But this is 200n8 folks. Office Max isn’t going to cut it and neither is Outlook. No, this year is bigger. Brighter. Specialer. This is the kind of year when one such as myself must fashion a calendar using only the sCraps laying around the house and his own God given ingenuity. That’s right, I made my own calendar. And I took pictures. And I’m going to walk you through the process so that you too can make 200n8 my year.



Lots of paper with one blank side. Reuse it dude. (A couple years ago I worked near a photocopier and made a habit of nabbing all the wasted one sided copies out of the recycling bin for printing stuff at home and projects like this. It lasted me for a year after I quit the job. Gold mine. )

Pen (s) (Number of pens/colors may vary according to your personal asthetic)

Hole punch

Metal rings or twine

Back of an old notebook (optional)


  1. Fold all the paper in half, blank side out.

  2. Place two fold pieces side by side butting the open ends together fold-to-fold.JPG 

  3. Make a 5 x 7 grid 57-grid.JPG

  4. Write the Month at the top month.JPG, and days across the top, (traditionally folks start with Sunday, but remember it’s my year and you can start with whatever day you want. )

  5. Here comes the tricky part:  Write in the numbers.  A little hint, The 1 doesn’t always go in the top left hand corner.  If any of you wondered why I was so unpredictable in 2004, this oversite was a major factor.  That, and I was using military time.  I was an imbedded chronographer of sorts.  2004 was not my year.

  6. I’m not sure where we are in the process.  Lets see… months, days of the week, dates… Holidays.  Add holidays.  Lots of them.holidays.JPG

  7. And while you’re at it, put it a month just for yourself.  Here’s what my month looks like.nateuary.JPG  It works on an 8 day week (I inserted “longday” between wed and th)  Natueary only has 19 days.  Sure, it’s my year but lets not get too self indulgent.

  8. Create a title page.title-page.JPG

  9. punch some holes in it whole-punch.JPG  That’s write, whole punch.  Put something through the holes to keep it together.

  10. Viola.  Yer donne.  At this point you have the option of taking it to the next level with additional pages.  At this point you’ve moved from calendar to PDA,  except without the D.  With it’s oldschool charm I think I might call mine a Mayberry.

  11. Enjoy your year!  It’s mine.

Posted: January 20th, 2008
Categories: diy, fact
Comments: No Comments.

no tree? no prob.

If you don’t have a christmas tree by now you have 3 options.

– don’t get one

-buy one from a lot.  merry christmas charlie brown.

-make one.

Sure you could make up more options, but it’s christmas who’s got time for that?

Our family has usually gone with option two.  In a somewhat intentional way we’ve tried to put off Christmas till after Advent, you know when Christmas comes.  The years we’ve got an early start on Christmas and put up decorations and all that during early December we’re really sick of them by the time Christmas comes.  In fact last year while living in ottertail county we got carried away and cut down a tree (legally) barely got it on top of the car (it was huge) and had to cut parts of it off to fit it into the house.  It was a bit over the top.  We spent Christmas Day taking down all our decorations.  Partly because we were sick of them and the tree was taking up a ton of room, and partly because when we’re both home for the day we usually start getting rid of stuff.

Anyways, unlike her parents our eldest and wisest loves glamour and glitz.  She’s got more glitter that Mariah Carey.  So one day a few short weeks ago I conceded it was time to put up a tree.  But I didn’t want to spend any money.  (not unusual) Nor did I care to clean up pine needles.  So we made our own.  I was going to make an step by step instructable, but I forgot to take any pictures till it was done.  So here’s what we started with:


2 tomato cages, some wierd grid of wire i found in the garage, zip ties.

the wire became the trunk, the tomato cages were stacked together and zipped, then covored with ornamentation. 


in reality it looks a lot more vertical.

voila, no mess, no money spent, small footprint, plenty of places to hang crap, and in 5 days I can throw it back in the garage!  what more could you ask for?

Merry Christmas one and all.

Posted: December 20th, 2007
Categories: diy, family
Comments: No Comments.

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